Claudette The Torch Red Corvette
Updated: Sep 29
I can still see the car in mind. At 408 Ash Street in Richland, Washington. It was Christmas of 1978 and this six year old watched his uncle Thomas hop in the coolest car he'd ever seen. A 1978 Chevrolet Corvette Indy 500 Pace Car special edition. It impressed me so much I went on to memorize model years, build sheets, RPO (Regular Production Option) codes... the shine YJ8 aluminum wheels on that car rolled so nicely as the 350 V8 burbled down the road away from me.
The imprint of that car! I can't tell you for sure when I decided to become a Corvette nut, nor when I decided that someday I just had to be a part of the Corvette Legend but no doubt the seed was planted on this day outside my grandparent's home.
To this day, I have books, posters, models, magazines and toy Corvettes from childhood. The centerpiece of my bedroom for over a decade was a poster that featured picture every model year with the powertrain options listed underneath.
I memorized oddball and rare options and the codes one would have checked off to order them. The original Z06 race ready option in 1963 with the super rare RPO N03 36.5 gallon fuel tank was always a favorite. It was a $202 option and only 63 were built -- and today they're out of this world rare and expensive.
Well, It took me 41 years from that day but The Legend Lives™. While all car guys lust after the biggest, baddest and rarest models of their favorite cars, and I am no different, my Corvette is a simple base model.
Claudette is a Torch Red 1998 Corvette Coupe and oh boy is she sweet. I saved and lusted over the years and what I was searching for was a black 6-speed. But the car guy in me knew that when I saw this car, which is an automatic and red, I couldn't be too picky. The owner had the original window sticker and all the maintenance records and it was in really good shape.
As Corvettes go, there is nothing super special or rare about mine. Total production was 31,084. The rarest options on mine are that it was delivered with RPO C2L dual removable targa tops (5,640 built). There is a body colored one and an blue transparent one. It also has the F45 Selective Real Time Damping which was installed on 8,374.
I've lived a charmed life with cars. Cars I've owned have been reliable and I fully expected this one to be the one to blow up in my face but I've been daily driving this since 12/19 and the thing has been bulletproof. I've even got 30MPG on a trip -- which is better than most modern cars short of those specifically built to be thrift masters. I've driven in snow, rain and dirt roads and I'm here to tell you: Chevrolet built a masterpiece.
I leave you with a C5 (Corvette, 5th generation) commercial that I think sums up what it is like to drive one. If you aren't already in the club, I can't recommend ownership enough.